Sidecar doubles down on delivery service

Sidecar said it would be expanding its delivery service to other parts of the country

Sidecar's mobile app.

Sidecar's mobile app.

Car-hailing app Sidecar is trying to make further inroads into same-day deliveries.

Sidecar, which competes with Lyft and Uber but is active in fewer cities, has for the past six months partnered with companies selling food, flowers and groceries to provide same-day delivery of packages in its hometown of San Francisco. Eat24, which lets people order food online from thousands of different restaurants, is one such partner. Now, Sidecar is expanding its same-day delivery service nationwide.

By "nationwide," Sidecar likely means the small number of cities in which it currently operates. Besides the San Francisco Bay Area, that includes Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, Chicago, Boston and a handful of others. Lyft operates in more than 50 cities across the U.S., while Uber operates in around 280 cities in more than 50 countries.

Sidecar lets people request a ride from drivers using their personal cars. Like Uber and Lyft, Sidecar also offers a car-pooling option letting passengers share rides along the same route for a lower fare.

Sidecar is unique in letting riders choose from a list of available drivers, but still the company has struggled to stand out from its rivals. Expanding same-day deliveries into more markets could be a growth opportunity for the company.

The move might also signal a shift from on-demand rides. Same-day delivery will represent half of Sidecar's business by the end of this year, the company said in a blog post. Roughly 10 percent of Sidecar's ride volume in San Francisco already comes from same-day deliveries, Sidecar says.

"Our vision is that one day any business will be able to take an order and get it to the customer in an hour, and Sidecar will be the service that powers this capability," the company said in its announcement.

Sidecar provides a software toolkit or API for outside companies who want to partner with it for deliveries. Sidecar's delivery service is 80 percent cheaper than traditional shipping services and cuts the delivery time in half, Sidecar claims, all the while letting Sidecar drivers earn more by delivering both people and items.

But even in providing more delivery services, Sidecar faces increasing competition. Uber is advancing in this area, with its UberRush courier service for package delivery in New York City. Uber is also experimenting with delivery in other geographic areas through its tests of cargo delivery in Hong Kong and fast food delivery in Los Angeles.

A Sidecar representative did not immediately respond to a request for more details on the new service.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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